A strange season has taken another interesting turn for Devin White.
After sitting out of the Buccaneers’ crucial victory over the Packers due to a lingering foot injury, White was forced to defend himself against accusations that he quit on his team this week.
“I’ve just been seeing a lot of stuff saying like, that I quit on my team,” White said, via ESPN. “I don’t understand how I could do that when it was a personal — like for me and coach [Todd] Bowles — decision to sit down and rest to be able to help my team. And even when I haven’t been playing, I’ve been in the building. I’ve been out there just supporting them. … I’ll never quit on my team.”
The discussion arose following former teammate Richard Sherman’s report on FS1 that suggested White was inactive in Tampa Bay’s Week 15 triumph over Green Bay because White didn’t want to accept a rotational spot shared with linebacker K.J. Britt.
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Fortunately for the Buccaneers, Britt has been playing quite well of late, finishing with six tackles (one for loss) Sunday, one week after setting his single-season high mark with eight tackles and a pass defensed that was nearly an interception in Tampa Bay’s win over Atlanta.
Essentially, the Buccaneers didn’t miss White much, bringing sense to the rumors that White was going to be forced into a rotational role with Britt in what is a contract year for White. Head coach Todd Bowles didn’t give much of a hint in either direction when asked about the matter.
“He was medically cleared to play, then he indicated that he didn’t feel right,” Bowles said. “He informed me that he couldn’t play — he couldn’t go. We had ongoing conversations until Sunday morning. I decided to deactivate him. When he got to the stadium, he found out he was inactive.”
White told reporters that the decision to list him among the Buccaneers’ inactives, despite being medically cleared, “didn’t sit no way with him,” meaning he didn’t have a notable reaction to sitting out while Britt took his place. He added he understands his role — and his ability to properly fulfill it — in Tampa Bay’s defense is important, and he needs to be healthy to do so.
“My mindset is like, ‘Man, I got to be out there. I make the team go. I make the defense go,'” White said. “But if you can’t be yourself, then you can’t really go out there and help your team — more so hurting them.’ And that’s something that me and coach Bowles had like a father-to-son talk, because that’s how I look at him. He’s like, ‘D, I got to get you back healthy. I got to help you get healthy so you can help the team.'”
This story has legs because White hasn’t been very good in an important season for him. He’s headed toward free agency after the Bucs declined to sign him to an extension, instead relying on his fifth-year option as a prove-it year. So far, White hasn’t proven much.
White will play in Week 16 versus Jacksonville, Bowles said. It’s safe to expect to see White rotating with Britt.
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